What actually is yoga?

The word ?yoga? itself means ?union?. This is the union of the individual consciousness – or?soul -?with the universal consciousness – or?spirit. Although most of us know the physical practice of yoga as the asanas or postures, these are actually the most superficial aspect of the profound science of unfolding infinite potentials of the human mind and soul.

So really, it?s a way in which we choose to live our lives. This is, of course, with kindness and integrity, and in which we can do with a simple system in mind known as The Eight Limbs of Yoga. These eight limbs (or points) – based on the ancient Indian sage, Patanjali?s Yoga Sutras – make up the complete integral practice of reaching the control of the mind.


Yamas

Meaning ?reigning in? or ?control?.
The 5 rules or restrictions for living a harmonious life in society.

Niyamas
The 5 precepts for a harmonious being and successful practice.
These are the duties directed towards ourselves – our inner observation.

Asana
A set of physical exercises (postures) in order to obtain physical health and balance of all
organ systems.These postures prepare our physical bodies to ?sit for long periods of time in meditation.

Pranayama
Prana means ?life-force?.
A set of breathing exercises to balance energy flow and energy body structure.

Pratyahara
A withdrawal from the senses.
The practitioner diverts himself from the 5 senses and turns the attention on the internal experience.

Dharana
Concentration.
Developing the ability to focus attention on the chosen object and keep this attention stable.

Dhyana
Meditation.
Intense contemplation of the nature of the chosen object.
Merging with the object of meditation.

Samadhi
Transcendence.
A complete fusion with the Divine Consciousness, aka enlightenment.

So when we talk about yoga, we are really talking about a way of life. Personally, I?m not a fan of rules, and the eight limbs certainly look like they contain quite a few. However, when you get down into the detail, its really just a structured way of saying ?be kind?, ?be honest?, ?be grateful? and practice these things daily both on and off your mat. When we live our lives in such a way we are preparing ourselves for Samadhi. Whether you are aiming to reach that point, or just to live a kinder life, the practice of yoga is certainly a step in the right direction.

Wow, that?s quite a lot to take in. I?ll leave you there to ponder the meaning of yoga, and perhaps ask yourself what yoga actually means to YOU. Over the next 8 weeks we will go deeper into each of Patanjali?s Eight Limbs of Yoga to help you to understand this yogic lifestyle a little more.

Just as a reminder – as I always tell you in practice, I am here to guide you. With everything I teach you, take whatever bits you relate to and listen to your body, heart and soul. But most of all, enjoy your journey to joyfulness, love and self-acceptance.

Peace, love & light.

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